Seven pitches big top with proven tentpoles

High-risk development may not have been's Seven's strong suit in 2020, but it scored with commissions.

There’s no getting away from Seven’s ratings failures in 2020 –My Kitchen Rules, House Rules, Plate of Origin, Between Two Worlds -but all were produced by Seven Studios, which the network has signalled will no longer be in the high-risk business of development.

While Seven will continue to produce Home & Away, Better Homes & Gardens and Border Security, Director of Programming, Angus Ross is upbeat about commissioned success stories this year: Big Brother, Farmer Wants a Wife and SAS Australia.

“It was really a year of year of two halves, I think you’d have to say,” he tells TV Tonight.

“We tried to reboot some of our existing franchises in the first half of the year being My Kitchen Rules and House Rules. James (Warburton) had called them out as being stale and tired and we did a last-ditch attempt to reboot them. Unfortunately, neither of them performed strongly enough to be able to come back next year. Then really the back half of the year, when Big Brother hit our schedule, was the start of our outwardly focused commissioning strategy, where we get out of the program development business through Seven Studios and start to commission proven international formats. That’s the new strategy under James.”

While Ross cities a “three from three” strike rate on new commissions, 2020 also disrupted plans.

“Clearly this year we couldn’t bring Holey Moley which was unfortunate, it was due to air in the back half of the year but will be with us for the start of next year. And we couldn’t deliver Australia’s Got Talent either due to the international travel restrictions.”

Nine won the year in Total People and advertiser-friendly demos, but observers note a strong pushback by Seven in the second half of the year.

“We finished the year within 0.5 of a share point of Nine, with several shows down that we’re due to be on at this time. So we’re very happy with the performance for the back of the year and are looking to deliver a full schedule for next year again, following the same strategy: proven international tentpole programming.

“The first episode of SAS Australia  has done over 400,000 extra viewers on that service. When you look at the Overnight, plus 7 day, plus regional, plus the streaming numbers, it’s actually a bigger show than The Block -because it’s so much bigger on 7Plus, much bigger on the seven day consolidated and it’s bigger in the regions as well.

“We also have the number one multi channel group 7mate, 7TWO, 7flix. Even with one less than our competition, ours is the biggest.”

4 Responses

  1. ryan, poida and mr j are right.

    jimbo took the approach that getting out of making a % of seven’s content was a smart move.
    who needs the head count? the hits and misses?

    he even believed he’d be able to sell what was left of SS
    (with a caveat that the sale didn’t incl. H&A or BH&G)
    …of course it didn’t happen…no sale.

    it’s 2021. where is 7? all of their in-house talent is now elsewhere, they have lost SS’s annual revenue return of $40m. and are completely dependent on out-sourced content.

    but they have Supercars.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but whilst Seven haven’t had much success in the past couple of years with developments from Seven Studios they do have a rich history of developing successful formats. When it works is it not cheaper for them and brings them additional earnings from being able to sell the format internationally?

    Switching to commissions rather than in house developments is just as risky and they don’t get the ability to pitch a format to international buyers, not too mention the cost becomes fairly significant licensing known properties.

    A mix of the two would surely be the smarter way to go, especially considering Seven are the only commercial broadcaster without a streaming service e.g. Stan, Paramount +.

    Seven Studios almost feels like their niche.

    1. yeah, hope they know what they are doing, this all seems very short sighted to me.

      All these big ticket formats that other networks found unviable will probably be the first to get the chop once financial realities kick in. and the usual plan B to resort to in-house cheaper content has been burned.

    2. He just threw Seven Studios under the bus in order to claim that outsourcing is the panacea for their issues. As Mr J alludes to, this is no less of a risk.

      Is Australian Idol just a backup in case The Voice tanks?

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